In response to yesterday’s blog entry A Cut Above, received the following from fellow stormbug and study collection research fellow SB.
“Not wishing especially to feel obliged to leap to the defence of DC's curating but as a matter of fact Tacita Dean was represented in the 'Century' show as were other 'post-media' artists like Gillian Wearing, the Chapmans, Tracey Emin... While yr points are well made, I think we're also in danger of reaching a point where the Rosalind Krauss post-medium line has become just as much a prescriptive orthodoxy (after leaving behind Krauss's specificity, complexity and nuance) and any practice that is medium specific or formalist is discredited as outdated. Like a form of multiculturalism that says you can be any religion that you want as long as it's not Muslim.”
SB is of course right that there were some inclusions of work by contemporary artists such as Tacita Dean and the Chapmans in the ‘Century” show but anyone looking at the programme (still up on the Tate Britain website incidentally) will quickly surmise that these inclusions were few and far between. This however is not necessarily a call for more Emin or Wearing, (after all these artists are hardly underexposed) but, for a critical discourse that can encompass a maningfull debate on Gidal and Gordon.
During part of the “Century” screenings for example there was a large video installation in an adjoining room in Tate Britain by Sam Taylor Wood. It was hard to miss as it occupied a space about four time that devoted to “Century” and during quieter moments in the “Century” programme the sound from the Wood could be heard through the wall. Here was an obvious opportunity for some critical dialogue and yet there was none.
Of course a post media specific discourse implies a critical dialogues should have been taking place with any and all artworks; with say the Tony Cragg piece in an adjoining room at Tate Britain just as much as with the Sam Taylor Wood, just because she was using video projection? Here its worth returning to SB’s comments in particular “I think we're also in danger of reaching a point where the Rosalind Krauss post-medium line has become just as much a prescriptive orthodoxy” (after leaving behind Krauss's specificity, complexity and nuance”) Presumably SB is referring at least in part to the ideas expressed in “A Voyage on the North Sea: Art in the Age of the Post-Medium Condition” Complexity and nuance are important and post media practice shouldn’t necessarily imply a laisser-faire free for all, lacking in any critical or historical perspective and willingly blind to precedent. To quote from yesterday’s blog A Cut Above… Many contemporary installation artist could learn a great deal from looking at the work of ‘experimental’ filmmakers and similarly those with the new media establishment need to rise to the challenge of seeing their work in a wider context. So yes a post media discourse would potentially include Cragg just as much as Wood but would also recognise shared concerns not of media but of conception. Again from a Cut Above…” There is an obvious continuity between say Malcolm LeGrice and Douglas Gordon so why pretend that they occupy separate histories?”
The number of commentators noting the lack of “serious” critical debate post YBA may well be reflecting the difficulty in establishing these shared conceptual concerns or indeed any parameters at all. Perhaps to suggest that the impetus for a new critical dialogue should come from shows such as “century” is asking too much, but somewhere between the cosy capitalism of gallery based installation artists and the state funded head in the sand of the new media establishment lie the seeds of a new discourse.
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